We cannot deny the fact that a lot of people still prefer the meat of indigenous chickens to exotic ones. Knowing how to breed chickens, especially local chickens, is therefore of major concern in breeding of poultry.
For those of us who love the indigenous breed of chickens in Nigeria, you can testify that our local chickens were bigger than we have now. They used to weight between 2 – 3.5 KG at maturity, but can hardly get anything close to that now. I currently have one that I am thinking of giving to my dog to eat. It is mature but just too small. Where did we go wrong? It all came from errors of breeding in poultry.
What is breeding of poultry?
Breeding of poultry refers to the systematic process of controlling reproduction in poultry. Breeding is usually aimed at maintaining or increasing an existing flock, and it involves thorough selection processes. Specific traits that are desired are preserved while undesired traits are avoided.
Some qualities we are losing gradually in our local chickens
When talking about breeding of poultry, not many people have the idea of how to breed chickens even though many families had local chickens. I could remember that my mother had a couple of them. We had favorites, but we never knew that we ought to preserve their genetic traits. The large size, the breeding value/quality, and the resistance to diseases.
If only we knew, probably we would have carefully selected only the heavy males to mate with the females of high breeding value. We would have selected against those smaller males and just use them for other purposes but not breeding. They would have been our BBQ when we listened to the evening tales. Indiscriminate mating was happening everywhere and nobody cared until now.
We often liked those indigenous chickens, especially hens that lay lots of eggs and hatch even up to 15 chicks. How did we forget that it was a good quality worth preserving and replicating in future generation? Why didn’t we just allow those hens to be the true mothers and use the rest for other purposes
Desired Trait like Plumage
Some indigenous chickens are just too beautifully adorned with their plumage. This is one of the greatest highlights of the Kuroiler and Noiler breeds. Our local chickens used to be beautiful too. We need to preserve those beautiful ones with our knowledge of breeding of poultry.
Here’s how to breed chickens
I believe I have been mentioning this all along, but let me make it clear. If we must have a line of indigenous chickens that have all the above qualities again, we need determination. We need to search for the few ones that are available and allow them to replicate those desired qualities. For example, I have a project I am working on, and by the time I am done, I will have lots of big beautiful local chickens.
The hard part may be to dispose the cocks and hens with undesirable traits. If you must sell them off, please do. If you must eat them, please do. But make sure they are not allowed to breed. It is the only way to ensure that our indigenous breed of chicken is of good quality again.
Some economic benefits of the local chickens
- The local breed of chickens is hardy/resistant to diseases
- The meat is very tasty
- They are used for traditional festivals and feasts
- They go broody easily and naturally
- They are good mothers
- They are very protective about their chicks
- They convert chicken wastes to meat, and bring profit to farmers
- They require very low investment capital
- They are easily adapted to Organic poultry
For these reasons and more, I believe that the local breed of chickens should not be allowed to go into extinction. Let us all do what we can to ensure that the breed is preserved.